H1 vs H2 History – What’s The Difference?

history h2 h1

Have you just entered Junior College? Perhaps you have enjoyed taking History in secondary school and wish to continue navigating the intricacies of the wonderful subject.

You may also have never done History in school and wish to start taking this subject.

Well, you may be facing a dilemma –

H1 or H2 History?

How are they different and which should you choose?

Here is a quick summary of what we will be covering down below:

  • Syllabus
  • Assessments
  • Eligibility
  • Timetable

Before we carry on, here are some key questions you have to ask yourself when deciding whether you would like to take history at an H1 level or an H2 level or maybe even take History at all!

  1. Do I enjoy learning and understanding about what and why things occurred in the past?
  2. Am I ready to commit a substantial amount of time to pick up the skills and content necessary to keep up with the demands of the subject? 
  3. What do I plan to do in the future and how can taking up this subject help further this? 

Without further ado, let’s get into the more technical details of taking History in JC.


What is History like, especially compared to Secondary School?

Well, I would have to say the similarities can be quite similar, yet the differences are very much different. For starters, the content that you studied in Secondary School (ie. the Cold War, WW2 etc.)  can be carried over at the JC level. 

However, do be prepared to learn in much more depth, especially about the Cold War. 

Depth of Content

I would have to say the level of content you will be picking up within the span of your time in JC will be close to 3-4 times the amount you would have studied in Secondary School. 

However, you do not have to worry too much as it is still manageable, and if you find yourself struggling in H2 History, you would have the option to drop to H1 History in the future. 

Structure of Arguments

Essay writing is very different from just writing down all your content knowledge. Instead, do be prepared to give deep and insightful responses which contain the different historical concepts. 

If you just bombard your examiner with 20 different dates, examiners may not give you the best score either. 

Instead, you will now have to think further into understanding and expressing your own view in relation to the question through the deepened evaluations you will have to give. 


H2 History

H2 History encompasses 2 main areas of study – International History and Southeast Asian History.

Within these 2 areas are the 6 different themes that you will explore:

International History

  •  The Cold War (SBCS)
  •  the UN (Essay)
  • the Global Economy (Essay)

Southeast Asian History 

  • Political Stability, 
  • Regional economy, 
  • ASEAN & Interstate Tensions

H1 History

Unlike H2 History, H1 History focuses on a study of the Cold War and its impact on developments in Asia as well as the developments of the United Nations after 1945. 

Here are the key themes you will explore: 

  • Understanding the Cold War (1945–1991)
  • The Cold War and Asia (1945–1991) 
  • The Cold War and the United Nations (1945–2000)


Here are the key differences in assessment formats.

For H1 History, the syllabus would comprise only of The Cold War and the Modern World. 

Section ASection B
TypeSource Based Case StudyEssay Questions
Marks40m (10m and 30m)60m (30m per question)
ThemeUnderstanding the Cold War (1945-1991)
Emergence of Bipolarity after WWII
A World Divided by the Cold War (Korean War, Cuban Missile Crisis)
End of Bipolarity
The Cold War and Asia (1945-1991)
Superpower relations with China
The Cold War and Southeast Asia
The Cold War and the United Nations (1945-2000)
Organisation Structure of the United Nations
Effectiveness of UN peacekeeping operations in maintaining international peace and security

There will be only one paper, and the time allocated for the paper would be three hours

For H2 History, the syllabus comprises of the following:

Paper 1 : Shaping the International Order (1945-2000)

SectionSection ASection B
TypeSource based Case StudyEssay Questions
Marks40m (10m and 30m)60m (30m per question)
ThemeTheme 1: Understanding the Cold War (1945-1991)
Emergence of Bipolarity after WWII
A World Divided by the Cold War [Korean War, Cuban Missile Crisis, Vietnam War]
End of Bipolarity
Theme 2: Understanding the Global Economy (1945 – 2000)
Growth and Problems in the Global Economy
Rise of Asian Tiger economies (South Korea and Taiwan) from 1970s to 1990

Theme 3: Safeguarding International Peace and Security
Formation of the United Nations
Political effectiveness of the UN in maintaining international peace and security
UN Reforms

This is the first of two H2 history papers, and the duration of the final A-Level exam will be 3 hours each. The two papers will be tested on different days.

Paper 2: The Making of Independent Southeast Asia, Independence – 2000 

SectionSection ASection B
TypeSource-based Case StudyEssay questions
Marks40m (10m + 30m)60m (30m per question)
ThemeTheme 3: Inter-state Tensions and Cooperation
The section will be based on the following case studies: Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Indonesia, Thailand and Vietnam
Theme I: Search for Political Stability
Approaches to Governance Approaches to National Unity

Theme II: Economic Development after Independence
Paths to economic development
Asian Financial Crisis

Each Paper under H2 History would be three hours long, with a total weightage of 100 marks each. Each paper holds an equal percentage as well, thus the final score would be calculated by combining equal percentages of each paper. 

JC’s Offering History

If you are wondering which JC offers both subjects, here is a table to summarise them. 

Schools OfferingH1 HistoryH2 History
Anglo Chinese Junior College
Catholic Junior College
Hwa Chong Junior College
Tampines Meridian Junior College
Nanyang Junior College
Millennia Institute
National Junior College
Jurong Pioneer Junior College
St Andrew’s Junior College
Victoria Junior College

As seen above, you will have the opportunity to take either H1 or H2 History in any Junior College in Singapore. This is because history is a core humanities subject that is taught by all schools. 


If you are worried about being excluded from taking History because of your results, do not worry as there are no pre-requisites for taking this subject. There is no requirement to take full or elect History in Secondary school either. 

As such, if you truly have the passion and a willingness to understand and infer from sources, I suggest you take up the challenge. 

In terms of attitude, being diligent, disciplined and having curiosity to learn is what I would describe as the best qualities you can possess regarding this subject. 

I have friends who have never taken the subject until Junior College, yet still achieve amazing results at all their examinations.

As such, your attitude is the biggest determining factor in the grades you will achieve. 


As seen from the difference in syllabus, there is bound to be a much larger workload required for H2 History than H1. And with this difference in workload, do expect more lesson time allocated for H2 History as well. 

In my experience, taking H2 History, I had two lectures a week, each spanning 1.5 hours. Apart from that, I also had at least one to two tutorials a week, with each tutorial being 1 hour long. 

For H1 History, my friends had one lecture a week, with the similar duration of 1.5 hours, as well as one to two tutorials a week, each tutorial being an hour long. 

Do note that the timetable might vary from school to school, but the main difference is the difference in lesson hours, with H2 History having more lesson time allocated than H1 History. 


H1 HistoryH2 History
SyllabusThe Cold War and the Modern World (1945–2000)
Understanding the Cold War (1945–1991)
The Cold War and Asia (1945–1991) 
The Cold War and the United Nations (1945–2000)

International History 
The Cold War (SBCS) 
The United Nations (Essay)
The Global Economy (Essay)

Southeast Asian History 
Political Stability
Regional economy
ASEAN & Interstate Tensions
Assessments3 hours, one paper3 hours each paper, 6 hours total
Weekly TimetableOne lecture, one to two tutorialsTwo lectures, one to two tutorials
CommitmentLess commitmentMore commitment
AbilityCannot drop the subjectCan drop to H1 History if unable to cope

Both H1 History and H2 History will allow you to explore the historical concepts needed in History.

While deciding between H1 History vs. H2 History, I suggest you look at your own competency and confidence levels.

However, I would strongly encourage H2 History if you have a keen interest in the subject!

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Gabrielle Chua

Hello ~~ I'm Gabrielle and I've recently graduated from Eunoia Junior College. I'm someone who thrives on gaining new experiences and constantly challenging myself. Some things I'm currently occupied with are -- spin classes, my full time job and kdramas ! >_<

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